Washington Legislature Passes Updates to WA Credit Union Act

Passage of SB 5144 is a win for credit unions and their Main St. members.

The Washington Legislature passed SB 5144, which modernizes the Washington Credit Union Act by removing unnecessary red tape and allowing 55 state-chartered credit unions to focus more effectively on their members.

Gov. Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5144, April 19, 2017. Relating to the Washington state credit union act. Primary Sponsor: Jan Angel. Photo courtesy of Washington State Legislative Support Services.

Governor Jay Inslee signed the legislation April 19.

EVP/COO at Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union, Tonita Webb, testified in favor of the legislation, telling representatives the amendments provide clarification for the board of directors, supervisory committees, and members.

“The updates will reduce the administrative burden on Washington credit unions and allow them to do what they do best,” Webb said, which is “providing affordable financial solutions, while improving the communities in which our members work, live, and play. We are their voice and these technical changes speak on behalf of their needs.”

A key improvement to the Act amends the Low-Income Credit Union (LICU) designation so credit unions may qualify more seamlessly.

The legislation also streamlines responsibilities of the board of directors, cleaning up confusing language, and allowing more delegation of duties to the CEO. The role of the Supervisory Committee also has been clarified to ensure audits are performed and financials are independently verified.

Other provisions of SB 5144 include:
• Elimination of the outdated term, “purchasing shares;”
• Updating of the Federal Parity Date to 2017; and
• Clearing up overlapping language in the Investment of Funds clause.

President and CEO of Shelton-based Our Community Credit Union, Bert Fisher, believes the updates to Washington’s Credit Union Act will help member-owned, not-for-profit credit unions to continue to “do some extraordinary things in our communities.”

“We recognize that… we need to be proactive in making sure the Washington Credit Union Act is reflective of the current financial environment and consumer behaviors,” Fisher said. As our members are confronted with a changing financial landscape, it’s critical that we have laws that are responsive to those changes.”